UU Potential Near 38% On Campus

Last month the UUA provided a short analysis, that was briefly on the front page of the UUA website, of the new UCLA study of student’s spiritual life for Unitarian Universalist Campus Ministry.

[The] study released today of over 100,000 first-year college students showed high interest in spirituality, broad tolerance for religious pluralism, and a desire for spiritual growth among students surveyed. The study, conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute, found that large majorities of first-year students have an interest in spirituality (80%) and are searching for meaning and purpose in their lives (76%)

Michael Tino referenced the study in his Young Adult & Campus Ministry report to the UUA General Assembly last week in Texas, and I found another survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education that 23% of incoming freshman identify as "seeking" religion with 15% stating they are "conflicted" about their religious identity.  This provides an excellent response to the doubters and naysayers in Unitarian Universalist congregations and leadership that we lack potential, cannot organize a critical mass, or are embedded in too conservative a community to have effective, vibrant and healthy UU Campus Ministry.

The Chronicle Survey requires subscription access, but here is the brief blurb:

4/22/2005 Most Freshmen Say Religion Guides Them
By THOMAS BARTLETT
(Students )
…1% Islamic 1% United Church of Christ 1% Latter-day Saints (Mormon) 0.4% Seventh-day Adventist 0.4% Unitarian 0.4% Quaker 0.2% Current views about spiritual/religious matters Secure 42% Seeking 23% Conflicted 15% Not interested 15% …   (Find similar)
http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i33/33a00101.htm

The Office of Young Adult & Campus Ministry (UUA) maintains an Online Campus Ministry Manual to assist congregations and students in developing and most importantly institutionalizing UU Campus Ministry groups.  Our office also provides $50-$500 start up grants to any congregation or organization with a plan to organize and minister on campus.

I want to work to publicize this survey data more widely and directly to the gatekeepers and student leaders in our Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.  I believe this is hopeful if not deep down inspiring information that can cement our resolve to be accessible and welcoming as a liberal religious faith community on college campuses.  We need to nurture and minister to the seekers, the conflicted, as much as to the briding youth who choose to attend college and are often at the forefront of leading UU Campus Groups (as of 7/1/05 there are 141!).  We not only need to support and grow these existing groups, but develop new ones.  I plan to work with the UU Campus Ministry Advisory Committee to write a plan for fostering more groups over the next 3 years.

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4 responses to “UU Potential Near 38% On Campus

  1. Joseph-
    FYI, the survey the Chronicle presents is the HERI survey from UCLA. Fascinating, yes. 38%–let’s go!
    -Michael

  2. Cool, thanks for that connection Michael, I wasn’t able to read the whole Chronicle story, but seems as though the research is getting excellent analysis.

  3. Joseph~
    I love how you never stop thinking…
    If I was going to use this article to encourage a congregation to get involved, I’d want to add a line or two about how campus groups last longer when they have the support of a congregation. We’ll have to get you some YACM pom-poms!
    ~lynn

  4. Lynn,

    We have lasted over 100 years.

    In an exit survey of University of Illinois seniors, our local student newspaper report that 17% had attended an event at Channing Murray Foundation.

    In 1908, the Young People’s Club of the Unitarian Society of Urbana had 39 members, 1% of the University of Illinois enrollment of 4,000.

    Today with 40,000 U of I students, we would love to have 400 as “members”, actually, 100 would be great. I agree with Michael, Let’s GO!

    We are excited to the UUA expressing commitment to Campus Ministry. Our local resources can only do so much. With regional and national support, we can have 100 acive UU students within a few years. Many of our alumni have become lifelong UUs throughout the USA. Several at GA asked us to organize an alumni weekend at CMF.

    An announcement in the World might gather a lot of names.

    Imagine 20 to 40 UU Campus Centers… each with 100 active UU students…

    Doug

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